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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  February 3, 2013 10:00pm-11:00pm EST

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the festival will feature its third annual poetry contest, my one-act plays, and douglas brinkley, william smith, and patricia brady. please let us know about the book fair and post them to our
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wall at booktv or e-mail us at author jared diamond talks about his book and the way people live in human existence. what we can learn from traditional societies. >> i would like to invite doctor diamond to the stage. please give him a warm welcome to the seminar. [cheers] [applause] >> let me first check if you can
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see be okay. can you hear me in the back? it is a great pleasure to be back in philadelphia today and back and this wonderful library to talk about a subject other than gall bladders. [laughter] >> to give me an idea how many may find what i'm about to tell you a practical value. please reason into one of the other of two questions are lasker the first is, could you raise your hand if you are over age 65 years old or hope to live past age 65? or have a parent or grandparent over 65 years old red many of you, all right. the second group, please raise your hand if you are under 65 and have no intention living past 65 and do not have a parent or grandparent passed 65.
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albright,. [laughter] the first group, you are the ones that have talked to a that will be of practical value. those of you in the second group, i think you can still find a subject fascinating. i am going to talk about growing older in traditional societies. we are talking about many aspects of society, such as growing old and bringing up children, health, danger, settling disputes, war, religion, and speaking more than one language. this book is my most personal book read the most practical values of our daily lives and as a shameless author, it is about what i have learned from
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spending a lot of my time in traditional societies over the last 50 years. it is what other scholars have related to other societies around the world are you we are accustomed to living in big, industrial society, permanent housing with central government to make decisions. writing in books and the internet. most people live past age 60 we regularly encounter strangers, just as i am encountering you this evening. most of us eat food grown by a other people. we forget that every one of those things have evolved in human history. it is a separate biological evolution over about 6 million years. the things i just mentioned did not exist anywhere in the world 11,000 years ago. they were only within the last 11,000 years or it some of them, such as the internet and most
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people living past age 60, arose only within the last century or two. that is the ancestors of all of us here were living under traditional tribal conditions until virtually yesterday. measured on that 6 million year time scale of human evolution. until europeans started to expand around the world 500 years ago, tribal societies still occupied large parts of all of the continents. the tribal societies recently have been coming under to control modern societies of state government to the point we have today, the last tribal society not yet under state control, confined to just small areas of new guinea and the amazon basin. those tribal society is, they are far more diverse than all of our modern big societies. we have government and most
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people are strangers to each other in big society. it is different from cybersocieties and many basics, regardless of how big societies are. american, german, chinese, israeli or whatever. tribes constitute thousands of natural experiments. how to run society. perhaps that which we could learn ourselves from them. if you think that modern american children enjoy too much freedom, or perhaps you think that modern american children are not given enough freedom, you cannot perform this decisive experiment of designating 17 american states where kids have to remain strictly subservient to their parents and grand parents. another state where babies are given the freedom to make their decisions and to play with sharp knives from the age of two years old and on what. and other states have to treat
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children when they are treated today. if we could control that experiment, we could come back in 40 years, compared to children from all the state and quickly settle the questions, whether it is better to raise kids with more freedom, less freedom, or the same freedom that they enjoy today. unfortunately, it is impossible to carry out these kinds of experiments in the u.s. there are thousands of traditional societies in which children already did grow up with even much more freedom or less freedom than the modern united states. by examining what actually does or didn't happen in traditional society, it is much more varied than modern american society. he might be able to learn things of practical value in deciding how to raise her children and how to treat our older people and how to remain healthy and other things that we care a lot about. tribal society should not be scorned as primitives and miserable as, but they should not be ideologues.
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what we learn is that some of them will horrify us, but their other tribal practices that when we hear about them, we may envy them. and wonder if we could adopt those practices as well. to give perspective on how we treat elderly people in modern society, let me tell you the opinion of a friend of mine from the fiji islands in the pacific who had visited the united states. there were things that he admired by the united states, other things he dislikes. would you most low that was our treatment of older people. he almost shouted at me and dignity. you americans throw away your older people, those were his words. by that, he meant that most old people in the u.s. end up living separately from their children and separately from most of their friends of their earlier years. and there are separate
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retirement homes for the elderly. in fiji, and another traditional society, all of the people live out their lives among their children to their other relatives and the like. nevertheless present a vendor elderly, very traditional in societies, many get rid of their elderly in one of increasing we direct ways. most indirect method to get rid of the elderly is just to neglect them and not to feed them or clean them until they die. the second method is to a random when the group moves on. the third method is to encourage all the people to commit suicide. a fourth direct method is to kill all the people with their own cooperation. among the people of have to new guinea, a woman whose husband has died, asked elders come
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strangle her. the fifth and most direct method to get rid of the elderly is to kill them without their consensual cooperation. in what tribal societies do, children abandoned or kill their parents, it happens mainly under two conditions. the first is in nomadic, hunter gatherer societies and they are physically incapable of transporting old people who can't walk from the able-bodied younger people who already have to carry their young children and their physical possessions. the other condition for getting rid of older people is in society, living in marginal or fluctuating environments, such as the desert, where there are periodic food shortages and there isn't enough food occasionally to keep everyone alive. whatever food is available, it has to be reserved for able-bodied people, capable of
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contributing to the course arrival. and also to the children who will grow up to be the future adults of the tribe. can you still hear me okay? okay. for most americans, it is horrible to think about abandoning or killing your own elderly parents. but what else could go societies do? they face a cruel choice. their old people have to do with their own parents, and the old people know what now is what happened to them. for many who are inclined to blame those tribal societies for abandoning or killing the elderly, let me say the words of winston churchill about the behavior of the japanese admiral in october 1944, when the admiral had to choose between two equally noble choices. winston churchill said of the admiral, those of you who have endured a similar ordeal may
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judge him. in fact, many of you, many of us here, have already faced or will face an ordeal similar to the ordeal faced by those nomadic societies when you are the relative responsible for the medical care of an old person. and when you were the one who has to decide whether and when to hold further medical interventions and when to administer painkillers and sedatives or take care of a sick spouse. on the opposite extreme, to have the extreme, it exists in the new guinea society where i've been doing fieldwork for the past 50 years. in the society of many other sedentary traditional societies around the world. in those societies, older people are cared for in. they are fed. they remain valuable.
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they continue to live in the same house or at a nearby house with their children, relatives, and lifelong friends. in a traditional new guinea society, older people can no longer to their own food and the adult children to the food promised that the food into a cup, and give that soft food to the toothless hookers and eat. i don't know of any modern i don't know if any modern society has this routine. there are two sets of reasons in their treatment of all people. first is regarding to older people continuing to perform useful services and traditional societies and also in modern
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societies. one use of older people in traditional societies is that they often are effective in producing food. in tanzania, grandmothers are the most productive women of digging up wild edible roots because grandmothers have much more experience than younger women at finding the roots. they often have enough strength to dig them up. it increases for the children to know how to do it when the grandmother is there to porridge with them. the hunter gatherer man, they no longer have the strength needed spear a lion. but the men may still be useful in their old age at following animal tracks and capturing slow prey. the lifetime experience means they know much more than the younger men about the habit of each prey animal and how best to
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hunt each animal. the value and experience of older people in traditional societies has also been confirmed from modern farming societies. amongst 19th century canadian and finnish farmers, each decade that a grandmother survives past age 50 is correlated with two extra grandchildren, because of the contribution to resources by the grandmother while still alive. also, they babysit her grandchildren. thereby, freeing up the adult children to go hunting and gathering food for the grandchildren. another traditional value of older people is making tools and weapons, baskets and textiles. older people are usually best to those things.
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older people are usually the leaders of traditional society and the people most knowledgeable about medicine, religion, politics, and thus the expression tribal elders. that truth is still relevant today. the average age of the president of the united states is 54 years old. others also have another advantage in our modern society. our sources of information are the books that we have in the internet. but in traditional society, older people are the repositories of information. their knowledge is the difference between survival and death of society. in a time of crisis caused by events which only the older people have had experience. in 1976 i visited a remote
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polynesian island in order to do an environmental impact study for proposed mining project. as part of the study, asked islanders to tommy the name of each species of tree in their language, and whether each plant or tree was edible. they began to answer this is in my people, this one is even by animals, but not by people. this one is eaten by birds but not people. but that group is an edible to people or any animal at all. some islanders said people eat is reticular fruit only after a particular holiday. i didn't know what that was, but they talked about the food eaten by words or bad in the making to this other fruit eaten by people after this holiday.
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then several more foods only in after a certain time frame. so i asked about it. why are there foods that you eat after this holiday? the answer took me inside to an overly person that was the virtually blind and unable to walk. when that old woman was only a teenager, the island had been hit by an enormous cyclone that destroyed all of the garden in much of the force on the island. he gave the people at risk of starvation until they survive by eaten certain species of plants and fruits. only the old people remembered having eaten it edit previous cycle in history. i calculated that she was the
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oldest person on the island at the time. if another big cycle and should hit now and again destroy the garden, the only thing that would save the population from starving to death would be the memory of that one old woman. this old person who remembers what groups were normally considered edible when nothing else was available. her knowledge would keep her fellow tribe members alive until the guards could produce again. and the united states, however, we don't rely on oral answers. we look on the internet or google it. in all my years working on the pacific islands, that story of the old blind woman is
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important. it made me appreciate the overwhelming importance of the knowledge of older people throughout human history. we have the knowledgeable to people that spells the difference between life and death of the entire society. those are the ways in which older people are useful in traditional society. they contribute and the societies treat them well as elderly. the other set of reasons for variation of treatment of the elderly is the society's cultural values, which is done independently as the usefulness of the the elderly. for example, centralized government that have had governments for years, east asia has the philosophy of confucius
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and his doctrine. it means obedience and respect and support for elderly parents. cultural values that emphasize value to older people contrast the status of the elderly in the united states. older americans are at a disadvantage in getting jobs. for example, a sociologist carried out the experiment of committing dozens of job applications in response to ads of prospective employers. all of the applications gave fictitious names of women, and all of the applicants gave their age is -- they give their ages.
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another example of the status being lowered of the elderly in the united states is the policy in our hospitals called age-based allocation of health care resources. listen to those words. age-based allocation of health care resources. that expression is a cruel euphemism. it means there are only certain services apply to elderly, or if there is one part available -- if a certain surgeon can only operate at certain times. just one moment. thank you.
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some of you may have seen a james bond movie about 18 years ago in which the evil head of the media networks turned out and i apologize for the short technical interruption. okay, so, i was just talking then about age-based allocation for health-based resources. an explicit policy of giving preference to older patients or younger patients, on the grounds that younger patients are more valuable to society, supposedly, because they have more years of life ahead of them, even though the younger patient have fewer years of life experience. there are a few reasons for the low status of the elderly. it is based on the age and
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emphasis of helio polity. one is our protestant work efforts, which place value on works of the older people who no longer working on perspective. the other reason is emphasis on self-reliance and independence so that we scorn the people that are no longer independent. the third reason is our american point of view. they always depict smiling young people, even though old people as well as young people drink coca-cola like everyone else. just ask when a coca-cola ad to good people 75 or 82 years old.
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never. [inaudible] well, what has changed with the elderly today compared to their state of traditional society? or have been a few changes for the better and a few changes for the worse. changes for the better include today we enjoy much longer lives and better health in our old age and much better recreational opportunities. many have rarely had to experience grief from the death of their own child. where is in traditional societies, parents routinely have to grieve over the death of many or most of their children. another change for the better is that we now have specialized but time and facilities and
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programs. changes for the worse begin with a crew reality that we have more young people than any time in the past. it means that the old people are more of a burden and each one person has individual value that is less. there was only one old woman still alive who remember how to survive after the cyclone of 1910. there were still more alive in 1976, but any one of those was not considered individually valuable. another big change for the worse is older people, their children and friends, all movie moving scatter independently with each other many times during their lives. the average american moves every five years. so older people are very likely to end up living distantly from
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their children and living from the friends of their youth. yet another change for the worse in the status of the elderly is formal retirement from the workforce, cheering a loss of the self-esteem associated with work. perhaps the biggest of all the changes in the status of the elderly is that they are objectively less usable than traditional societies. widespread literacy means that they are not a depository of knowledge. when we look things up instead of googling it, state-mandated systems in the children are taught by all of the adults as part of everyday life. i mean, a slow pace of
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technological change in traditional society means that once someone learns as a child, their information is still useful. but today, it means what we use in modern society is tobin is no longer useful six years later. and we older people are not fluent in the technology for it surviving in society. for example, i was considered outstandingly good as they stood in and multiplying because of i know how to use rules of math. today, this is utterly useless because any idiot today can multiply eight digit numbers accurately and conversely,
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incompetent at skills essential for everyday life. my family's first television set was acquired in 1948. only three knobs that i quickly mastered. an on-off switch, a volume knob, and there is a channel selector knob. today, just to watch television programs, i have a television set in my living room and i had to operate three tv remotes that i find utterly confusing, although my tone explained it to me. i have to bring in my son and asked him to talk me through it while i tried to push those wretched 41 buttons. but we do to improve the lives of the elderly in the united states? to make them better use of value? and my remaining few moments today, i can also offer just a few suggestions. one value of older people is that they are increasingly useful or high-quality childcare
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givers if they choose to do it. as more and more younger women enter the workforce and fewer stay home as full-time individuals with their children, compared to the usual alternatives like paid babysitters, grand parents offer superior, motivated, experienced childcare. they have experience in raising their own kids, and usually they love their own grandchildren and are eager to spend time with her grandchildren, unlike other caregivers, grim parents don't quit their babysitting jobs board a job with higher pay. but there is also a downside to babysitters. with increasing age in which couples are having babies today, the couples often don't have become grim parents until they are in their 70s and 80s when they mean not any longer
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have the necessary stamina to take her grandchildren. a second value of grant grim parents today is related to the law of value in relation to conditions of technology. at the same time, older people have gained in value because of their unique experience in positions that have now become important because of the rapid change that could come back. for example, only people now in their 70s or older today can remember the experience of living through the great depression. the experience of living through world war. the experience of living through food and gas rationing and the experience of whether or not dropping atomic bombs would have more consequences for not dropping that bomb. many have no personal experience but millions of older americans
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do. unfortunately, all those terrible situations in the information that is behind them, result in the elderly dying and is lost. all the politicians and voters have that experience. younger people and politicians don't have that experience. the remaining value that i will recognize is there are other things that older people can do much better than younger people. making use of things that order people are better at doing. some abilities decrease with age. they include the path requiring physical strength and stamina, ambition, and the power of novel reasoning in this situation, such as figuring out the structure of dna to sciences.
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it includes experience, understanding the people in human relationships. the ability to help other people without your own ego getting in the way. and interdisciplinary inking about events, such as biogeography and comparative history. older people are better than younger people are as supervisors and in the ministry, advising, strategizing, teaching, and sympathizing. so many of my friends in their 60s and 70s and 80s and 90s, those that are into their 90s as farmers and lawyers and surgeons as well. in short, many traditional societies make or use of the elderly and give their elderly
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more satisfying lives than we do in modern society. paradoxically, we have more older people living better lives with better medical care than ever before. the lives of the elderly are why we consider this a disaster area of modern american society. making sure that we do better by link in the lives of those in traditional society. what is true is many other features of traditional society as well. of course, i am not advocating that we return to hunting and gathering and resume making morgan neighboring tribes. to mention just a few examples,
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lives are much richer and less plagued by violence and the lives of people in traditional society. but there are also things to be admired about people in traditional society that perhaps we learn from them. their lives are socially much richer than our lives, although materially poor. many are more self-confident and socially skilled and precocious than the lives of our children. in traditional society, they essentially never die of diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke and other noncommunicable aziz is that we find them in causes of death here in this world today. that is not just because they don't live long enough to get diabetes and those other diseases. even when you make comparisons of the same age, people are far less likely to get diabetes and
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those other noncommunicable diseases of americans of the same age. the modern lifestyle predisposes us to those diseases. and the traditional lifestyle protects us against those diseases. the other chapter of my book deals with the other aspect of society besides old age. i have a chapter on dispute resolution, which is aimed at reconciliation between the party involved in the dispute. any of you who have a brother or sister or parents and children, you know that the last thing that the american court system cares about his emotional reconciliation. the government cares about widespread care and people end up miserable as a result.
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another chapter involves killing not just older age men, the women but women and children. there is a reason for that. child rearing is quite different in traditional society, as it provides a contribution to this result in independent cells decisions. babies in traditional society are carried vertically and upright, not horizontally as in a baby carriage or in other ways that affect their motor skills. in traditional society, parents respond here in modern society likely, whereas in traditional sides, they do not respond
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timely at all. dangerous play out differently in traditional societies than in our society. people in traditional societies without 911 and police are much more attentive to the risks which each time they carry a risk of getting hurt and people judge dangers realistically. i learned today the most dangerous thing that i did was to take a shower. you may say what is so dangerous about that. my chances of slipping or less than one in 1000. well, just read the obituary column of the newspaper, a common cause is slipping on a sidewalk, shower, or stepladder. in your chances are only one in a thousand, you think that's
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good. i intend to take a shower every day for the next 50 or so years of my life. that means more showers, and if my risk is large, i will get killed five times before i without my shower in the next 15 years. [laughter] religion plays different functions in traditional society. that lets one imagine what is going to be the future of religion in the next century. multilingualism, which is debated or feared, it is routine in traditional society. one surprising discovery of the last five years is that the best protection that we now know on against the symptom of disease is not anything else but being bilingual. we don't know yet whether being
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multilingual is a protection. [laughter] those are just some of the vintages of what you can use and learn from traditional society. i hope it is as fascinating to read in my book as i found it to live. thank you. [applause] >> thank you very much, doctor jared diamond. we will now take questions. the way that it works is that you'll you will raise your hand, i will call on you, we will get a microphone for you. there is a lady in orange in the aisle. >> hello, thank you so much. thank you for that talk. it was very fascinating.
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i have a question about your book and what we can use from societies come at things you are talking about. i'm wondering if you had a rule that in things we should stick with what things we should leave. what should we imitate? >> i'm not saying that we should imitate them or discard the traditional societies, a couple of things we shouldn't imitate her obvious. we should not imitate strangling our parents. we should not imitate starving to death. we should not imitate killing a baby and the baby is born we heard things that we should imitate is anything that result in children being more confident and socially skilled. certainly anything that leads to
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heart disease or stroke should not be imitated. we should be attentive to the correct, realistic dangers, rather then compliments. but there is a middle ground where it is not so clear. if the case in traditional society, people never ever spank their children. yet there is a debate in american society and european society whether or not you should spank your children. in germany, when i lived there, there means we have to figure out if it makes sense or whether you will take your infant to bed with you. many pediatricians advise
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against it. somethings are honestly good, others are honestly that. other things people can figure out. >> in the corner? >> i was intrigued by the freedom that the children have. i was interested in knowing about the history today and what is better. more freedom were less freedom. >> that is a very good question to follow up on. how much freedom should a baby have. in the new guinea society, i know some were burned as
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evidence. children were considered independent and capable to make their own decisions. they can decide whether they roll into the fire or not. babies learn from that. well, i think fewer americans would argue that babies should roll their fire. but they should not be able to play with sharp knives. i think most of us grew up not playing with sharp knives. but there is a lot that children do in traditional society that goes against the grain of our micromanaging of our own children. so some things we certainly could permit our children to do. other things make us uncomfortable. >> against the wall on the left.
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>> you have been talking about how traditional societies impact us. what about the other direction in a place like new guinea, where these people are emerging from their traditional societies and they are corrupt and many people have a difficult time. can you make any suggestion as to how that would work under way. >> the flipside of the coin about the traditional societies with us is what impact the modern world is having on traditional society. and every traditional society that i know of, it has to do with acquiring that kind of stuff. traditional people want steel axes instead of stone axes. because they are sharper. they want matches rather than to
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build a fiber they want clothing, manufactured clothing instead of other types. they want educational opportunities for their children. throughout the world, traditional society from modern society, there are things that they wanted the traditional society should be free to make their own choices rather than be grabbed into the modern world against their will, notably by being exterminated, driven off the land, concord and etc. in a next question, over there? >> one thing that i noticed is that many grand parents raising their children. their children's children,
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excuse me. their grandchildren. my mother was 42 years old when she had a, which was almost an impossibly unfashionable age. i noted the same two things. the older the parent was, the grandparent was, i mean, in many instances, the children lined up almost with a generation of perspective alternatives. because of the grand parents. they grew up more racist. they grew up more superstitious. they grew up in a way that did not suit them for the generation they were entering. that is the one caution that i have when i look at what you are
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suggesting. >> sure. all of you parents of young children, you have to figure out how much you want to turn over to the grand parents of the children. in many cases, many of my friends are utterly thrilled to have their children looked after by their grandparents. other of my friends say that there is no way. so i am not making a universal recommendation. i am a merely that grandparents, they are more valuable than in the past. >> question in the front row when could you wait for the microphone, please? >> just as a follow-up, when you are comparing roles, someone
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could be a grand grand parent at a much younger age than traditional to tidy. you could perhaps become a grandmother and that could affect roles as well. in your study, how did you compensate for age-related rules? >> i acknowledge that in my lecture. i mentioned there is a downside. the downside is exactly as you said. people becoming grandparents not as 35 or 45 as they used to, but 70s. which means that we are much older, and as a printer and i will have much less energy than when i was 40 years old.
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>> gentleman on the left in the second row? >> human brain development was encouraged when grandmothers took over care of the children so that the mother could do other work. thinking about that persist the changes now are the grandmother is not necessarily part of. >> grandparent, grandmothers, taking responsibility for the kids of the parents of the kids go off to it is widespread, and i would say it's the case in
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many hunter and gatherer societies. grant parents often take responsibility for looking after the children. looking after their grandchildren, thereby freeing up other children to go off hunting and gathering. >> [inaudible question] >> general thing for brain development. well, -- >> [inaudible question] eighty speak about the educational also believes that saw my grandparents, you know, parents don't do as much as grandparents to. >> grant parents acquire information to pass on to their grandchildren. >> the gentleman behind you in
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the blue? >> yes, touching briefly on the differences between traditional and modern societies. could you say more about that, please. >> yes, the differences come as a big surprise to people who hear about them. often they are idealized, but there are lots of studies of traditional this ride it. and who is -- what is the percentage of people that died a die a violent death, it is higher than in almost any state society that we have that information. if you want to compare the worst of the worst, germany and russia and poland during the 20th century, the chances of dying of a violent death, any of those are several times lower than
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dying a death in traditional society. it is that they are instruments in an modern society and government. the government declares war. when they declare peace, men are restrained from starting the war. traditional societies are at war almost constantly. the numbers show that the chances of dying a violent death is something like 10 times the chances 10 to 20 times the chance. that is a huge price to pay. >> gentleman to the right. >> we see in our own country in
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recent months to much pure evil, if you will. could you imagine any traditional saudi the mass killing of children? viewed in the traditional sense heidi, could it be prevented? >> not only can i imagine it, sadly it is actually common -- the killing of children in some cultures. because the women are going to give her and her children will grow up in this environment. >> what about the discriminate wonton killings. what about lebron we? can you talk about that?
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there seems to be at least a view that it is more prevalent in traditional cultures. >> yes, if you read chapter three my butt or this is an unhappy subject. people don't like to hear about this. many scholars don't want to believe it. governments can declare war and make peace, they can do so in government who can do that. >> gentleman over there? >> culturally, that talked about some societies valuing older people more. i was wondering if a few things
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that exemplify the behavior of certain level? are they better at taking care of the elderly than we are? >> are they better than taking care of the elderly than we are. well, it depends upon what you mean by better. our society can certainly give better medical care. >> society by and large failed to provide a social site that is not. it is very difficult to reconstruct the lifelong social search of a little person is
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very difficult to reconstruct the lifelong socials that is of a person. >> the gentleman right behind you. a lot of questions, very little time. >> thank you. i wonder if you could say anything about the relationship that each society has in terms of protections for survival that they had. >> that is a great question. relationship of people in terms of sustainability and survival. traditional societies have had over utilizing resources that are important to them. the reason why when you step outside the holding, you are not going to see an elephant or a lion or a camel or any of the
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animals that used to be in north america 14,000 years ago. it is very likely to see these large animals. the famous economist for the universe the of indiana, he made a good point. he was asking the question, raising the question about whether traditional societies manage their resources well. or whether they overspend their resources to to sum up a life's work that won the noble prize in a couple sentences, traditional societies were much more likely to take good care of their individuals if they could exclude outsiders, and if they had confidence, they would pass on the influences to their own
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children. if they were confident, they would pass that on. they would take good care and if they were not confident, they could pass on the resources to their kids. that is a good way to be right. [applause] >> that is our time. [applause] [inaudible conversations] >> you are watching booktv on c-span2. forty-eight hours of nonfiction authors and books every weekend. here's a look at some books are being published this week. the former chancellor washington dc public schools, she presents her thoughts on changes in the u.s. education


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